Direct-to-consumer virtual health company Ro launched a new health information platform dubbed Health Guide.
Currently the platform covers sexual health, hair loss, weight management, diabetes, men’s health and allergies. However, a representative from the company said that in the future, the plan is to expand the offerings to not only cater to male users, and to include more conditions.
The company, which got its start in the men’s sexual health space, said that the new service is designed to compete with the likes of WebMD and Google searches.
“We created Health Guide to fulfill one of Roman’s guiding principles: to meet patients at eye level,” the Roman Health Guide team wrote on its welcome announcement. “We know the internet is already bursting with health-related content. But we also know that this material isn’t always complete, easy to understand, trustworthy, or fun to read. So we decided to do it better.”
Users can access medical articles that give users insight into causes, symptoms, diagnoses and treatment options. The site will also have a lifestyle health component, which gives readers articles about new health findings that can impact daily life. Lastly the site has an ‘Ask the Expert’ section where doctors answer frequently asked questions. Doctors and surgeons from NYU Langone Health and Maimoides Medical Center are part of the editorial team creating the content.
The new editorial team is led by VICE alumni Grant Stoddard, whose his portfolio includes a variety of risqué men’s, sexual and cosmetic health stories. He has also been published in Men’s Health and the New York Magazine.
WHY IT MATTERS
Patients are increasingly turning to the internet to find out more about their health. An October survey released by ResMed found that six out of 10 consumers use the internet to try to diagnose themselves — and that number is higher for millennials (76%).
Additionally a new Aetna survey polling thousands of international office workers found that (43%) said they would investigate their condition online and then see a practitioner.
However, online medical advice has historically varied in reliability.
THE LARGER TREND
Although Ro started out in men’s health, it has since launched Rory, a platform for women experiencing menopause. It has also expanded to smoking cessation with its platform Zero, which uses a prescription nicotine replacement therapy and behavioral app. The company is also particularly well funded. In 2018 it landed $85 million to work on Zero.
It hasn’t been entirely smooth sailing for the company. Over the Summer Ro and its main competitor, Hims, which also works in in the online mail-order sexual health space, got heat when a New York Times article examined the company’s prescribing practices. The article points out that the clients come to the platforms with a “self-diagnosis” and don’t need to see a doctor in person.
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